Des Renford

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Des Renford after surgery
Des Renford Autobiography, Nothing Great Is Easy
Desmond Robert Renford MBE (25 August 1927 – 30 December 1999) was King of the Channel® between 1975 and 1979 with 16 successful crossings of the English Channel that included ten records. He was the first person complete three crossings in a year. He was also King of the Channel® briefly in 1980 when he achieved his eighteenth crossing. He authored a biography and was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1978 as an Honour Swimmer and by the International Swimming Hall of Fame with a Certificate of Merit in 2011. He penned his autobiography, Des Renford Nothing Great Is Easy, with numerous stories of his experiences around the world, centered around his marathon swimming career

Renford was an Australian long distance swimmer who swam the English Channel 19 times from 19 attempts. This is more successful crossings than any other Australian. From 1975-1979 and for a period in 1980 he held the title of King of the Channel®. At the time of his death, only two other people had swum the Channel more often, Alison Streeter (38 times; more since then) and Michael Read (31). He also swam 93km from Watson's Bay Sydney Harbour to North Wollongong Harbour in Australia in 1974 in 27 hours 29 minutes.


King of the Channel Film

Renford was one of the featured swimmers, along with Kevin Murphy, of the 30-minute documentary film King of the Channel about the triology of match races in Sydney Harbour, the English Channel and Loch Ness in 1977.


Renford was born on the 52nd anniversary of the very first English Channel swim, achieved in 1875 by Matthew Webb. He took up marathon swimming only at the age of 39. His English Channel crossings included three in 10 days in 1980. In 1977 he broke the record for swimming around Alcatraz Island by 23 minutes.

He was a mentor of Susie Maroney, and led her on her first Channel crossing when she was 15. In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 12 June 1976, Renford was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). He was a Papal knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (the letters OHS sometimes appear after his name). He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1998 and is a member of the 24-hour club.


He suffered three heart attacks and a stroke, and had undergone heart surgery. He had a fourth heart attack while swimming in 1999. He went into a coma, was admitted to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, and died there the following evening. His wife Patie, whom he married in 1945, and their three sons were at his bedside when he died.


The former Heffron Park Pool was renamed in Des Renford's honour on 1 March 2000 as the Des Renford Aquatic Centre.


List of Kings of the Channel®

King of the Channel® - Letona TrophyNumber of Crossings Years Held Title
Captain Matthew Webb11875-1934
Edward Temme21934-1951
William Barnie31951-1960
Brojen Das4-61960-1974
Melvyn Sharp71974-1975
Des Renford8-161975-1979
Michael Read17-181979-1980
Des Renford191980
Michael Read20-311980-2000
Kevin Murphy322000-2004
Michael Read332004-2006
Kevin Murphy342006-

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